It’s the scenario that any company which operates online dreads: hackers DDoS Attack their systems with the goal of causing harm. At worst, the results can be massive data breaches of the kind we’ve seen hit companies ranging from Yahoo to the Marriott hotel chain. But even something less devastating than that can cause major headaches. For example, a targeted DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack can temporarily knock online services out of commission by bombarding them with traffic from multiple sources. An estimated 2,000 DDoS attacks are observed every single day around the world: adding up to one-third of all downtime incidents.
Depending on what service you provide, this downtime can do anything from annoy users to, if you’re an enterprise company, potentially ruin workdays. Disappoint customers with enough downtime incidents and they risk abandoning your platform for another one which doesn’t suffer from such frequent problems. It’s unfortunate, to say the least — but it’s hard to blame users for prizing reliability.
While there’s certainly nothing wrong with saying sorry, a number of companies have realized that simply trotting out apologies on their own isn’t going to be enough to retain customer loyalty. As a result, they’re looking at other ways to compensate customers for their inconvenience. After all, time is money, as the saying goes — and a gesture that tells users that their time is valuable can do a lot to wash out the sour taste left in their mouths.
Attacks on Gaming Platforms
In 2018, for example, game developer Ubisoft was hit with a DDoS attack which impacted a number of its titles. Those affected titles including the popular fantasy action game For Honor, as well as Far Cry 5, Ghost Recon: Wildlands, and Steep. Ubisoft said that the DDoS attack had impacted its services and caused players to be unable to connect to games, as well as affecting server latency. Ubisoft was not directly at fault for the downtime, but it had committed to making these games available to play online for gamers, and so apologized for the incidents. That’s not all, though. It also gifted active players during the attacks with in-game compensation in the form of XP boosts, Scavenger Crates, and more. These items were automatically applied to the accounts of players.
Another gaming company hit with a DDoS attack was the poker game developer Partypoker. When it was the victim of a DDoS attack several years ago, it added $20,000 to one of its prize pots as an apology for the technical issues that players had faced.
In both cases, these companies were able to not simply placate irritated customers, but also claw back some good publicity by taking steps to drive use of their platforms.
It’s not just games companies which have been targeted by DDoS assaults, however. Web hosting company GoDaddy earned plaudits when its services were affected by hackers overwhelming it with traffic. CEO Scott Wagner wrote an email sent out to customers in which he noted that the company had let its customers down, and that it took the trust placed in it by users very seriously. He also took the important step of making clear that no sensitive information, such as credit card data, passwords or names and addresses, had been compromised by the attack.
Still, he provided a make-good to customers in the form of one free month of service to everyone with an active or published site with GoDaddy. He also posted the company’s helpline number and told customers to call “anytime, for any reason.” The proactive show of good faith helped placate customers who were upset (with good reason) about the incident.
The Best Apology is not Having to Make One
These are just a few examples of the more public compensations that have been made by businesses in an attempt to make up for unwanted downtime. They’re far from the only cases, though.
Unfortunately, DDoS attacks are only going to increase. Due to the low cost of implementing them, and the potential rewards for cybercriminals who can earn big money extorting protection fees, they will only become more prevalent. According to one report, the average DDoS attack cost for businesses has now risen to over $2.5 million. Loss of revenue at peak times can cost companies more than $100,000 per hour — in addition to other costs, including customer compensation.
Ultimately, the best possible solution for companies is to have the right security systems in place to avoid these attacks taking place to begin with. DDoS protection will give you peace of mind by providing fast action (and prevention) in the event that an attack is staged. After all, as much as customers may be willing to forgive businesses for downtime — at least, once or twice — the best answer of all is not to have to make them.